The burning alive of Father Louis Gaufridi

The burning alive of Father Louis Gaufridi for bewitchment of the nuns at Aix in 1611 formed the legal precedent for the conviction and execution of Urbain Grandier at Loudun more than 20 years later. This case was one of the first in France to produce a conviction based on the testimony of a possessed
demoniac. Prior to the 17th century in France,
accusations from a demoniac were considered unreliable,
since most clerics believed that any words spoken by one
possessed by the Devil were utterances from “the father
of lies” (John 8:44) and would not stand up to accepted
rules of evidence. As in Loudun, sexual themes dominated
the manifestations of the nuns’ possession (see
possession).
In The World of the Witches (1961), historian Julio Caro
Baroja comments that “in the history of many religious
movements, particularly those which have to struggle
against an Established Church, an important part is
played by men who have a physical and sexual power
over groups of slightly unbalanced women in addition to
strong spiritual powers.” By the 17th century, the Catholic
Church was fighting to stem the tide of Reformation
through miraculous cures and demonstrations of faith
and by the torture of heretics and witches. Baroja continues:
“At a later stage [in the religious movement] we
find such people formally accused of being sorcerers and
magicians . . . and causing the women they had abused
[or seduced] to be possessed by the Devil.” Baroja finds
Father Gaufridi to be the perfect example, concluding
that if he indeed was guilty of sexual crimes, he certainly
was not a Satanist (see Satanism).
Nevertheless, Father Gaufridi was convicted by his
own confession following torture and the accusations of
two nuns: Sister Madeleine Demandolx de la Palud and
Sister Louise Capel. Gaufridi recited his Devil’s pact for
the inquisitors, in which he renounced all spiritual and
physical goodness given him by God, the Virgin Mary
and all the saints, giving himself body and soul to Lucifer.
Sister Madeleine also recited her pact, renouncing
God and the saints and even any prayers ever said for her.
Aix-en-Provence Possessions 
Gaufridi was burned alive, and the two nuns were banished
from the convent.
Two years later, in 1613, the possession epidemic at
Aix spread to nearby Lille, where three nuns accused
Sister Marie de Sains of bewitching them. Most notable
about Sister Marie’s testimony, in many ways a copy of
Sister Madeleine’s earlier pact, was her detailed description
of the witches’ sabbat: The witches copulated with
devils and each other in a natural fashion on Mondays
and Tuesdays, practiced sodomy on Thursday, and bestiality
on Saturdays and sang litanies to the Devil on
Wednesdays and Fridays. Sunday, apparently, was their
day off.

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